Married at First Sight UK hasn’t just taken inspiration from the Australian version, it’s completely copied the homework.
From dinner-party infidelity (Jordon and Megan, we’re looking in your direction) to a full on wife swap (Alexis and Ant do seem like a better match), we’ve had our fair share of drama already. But there’s one critical difference between the formats – and it’s all in the experts.
Despite pinching Mel Schilling straight from Down Under, her approach – alongside those of newcomers Paul Carrick Brunson (who you’ll recognise from Celebs Go Dating) and Charlene Douglas – has signalled a much-needed shift.
Last summer we were sucked into the theatrics of Married at First Sight Australia along with the rest of the nation, but we also couldn’t quite shake the discomfort of watching some of the contestant’s more toxic moments.
From the infamous Ines and Sam debacle to the terrible matching 0f Susie and Billy, there were quite a few we could pin-point – but it was Heidi and Mike, whose relationship crumbled before our very eyes, that really highlighted a problem for the show. Namely, that the experts failed to spot or respond to clear red flags.
On the flip-side, MAFS‘s current UK run seems to be working hard to fix this problem. The very first commitment ceremony offered the experts their first opportunity to speak directly with the couples about their experiences as well as everything they had observed throughout the process so far – from the wedding days, through to the honeymoons and the initial dinner party.
When Morag and Luke sat down for their session, her fixation on Luke’s clothes and image was brought to the forefront.
It was revealed, and admitted by Luke himself, that he had previously given up on himself after a tough break up. But Morag’s comments about his appearance, and her vocal lack of attraction towards him, had been getting him down – particularly when she had told him that he wasn’t “man enough” for her.
“I’m a good bloke,” Luke explained to the experts, describing himself as “honest” and “hardworking”.
Paul C Brunson then took the opportunity to make an important point:
“There could be some confusion around what masculinity actually is,” he told Morag “I think you’re thinking of toxic masculinity – the rough, tough, ‘I don’t show emotion’ – that’s not being a man. What being a man is, is exactly what I see Luke do all the time. He’s loyal, what he says he does, he acts on his words. These are things that real men do.”
Franky then displayed some quite defensive and deflective behaviour when it came to his turn on the sofa alongside his new wife Marilyse.
Not only did they not really let the experts in, or go into any real depth with their answers, but Franky also did most of the talking – something which Mel drew attention to.
“I want to ask you about the power dynamic,” she said. “Franky, you’re an ex-military guy, you’re a person who likes command and control. I’m interested, Marilyse, in your perspective here. Tell us a bit about the space that you have to lead an argument and to have your needs met.”
While Franky didn’t seem to appreciate Mel’s insinuation that he may be exhibiting signs of “controlling” behaviour, it was important for the specialist – who, after all, is helping to guide the couples – to ensure that both parties were getting an equal opportunity to vocalise their feelings.
And then it was Alexis and Jordon’s turn to take the floor.
Talking about their difficult journey in the experiment, Jordon started to revisit the discussion they had on their honeymoon about his “type” – blonde hair, and blue eyes.
Jordon pointed at this being a turning point that had created “tension”, and Alexis immediately started crying.
“Tension or pain?” Mel cut in to ask. “Because right now, if you just look to your left, you can see that Alexis is really feeling this… And right now, I’m interested in hearing Alexis’s perspective.”
Revealing that she had worked really hard to be confident in who she is and what she looks like, Alexis told the experts that she’d experienced “constant digs” from her husband about her career and her appearance. “He just had no time for me at all,” she said.
Jordon then described her as “aggressive” and claimed that at one point he “didn’t know if she was going to hit me” – an allegation that caused Alexis to leave the room momentarily, stating that he was “a liar” and was trying to make himself look like the victim.
Paul tried to respectfully point out Jordon’s role in the conflict, with Charlene then stepping in.
“I think it’s always easy, isn’t it, if somebody is shouting, to focus on them as being the person that’s in the wrong,” she told Jordon. “What you also bring to the space could be seen as passive aggressive. So it’s a different form of aggression, but it still ignites a situation.”
After Charlene’s comments, Jordon conceded: “From what you’ve said, and digesting it, I think you’re right.”
Not only are these conversations vital in flagging inappropriate or potentially harmful behaviour to viewers watching on from home, but the experts’ constructive approach towards the contestants is also helpful towards giving them the tools to navigate their relationships in a healthier way.
Good work, MAFS UK.
Married at First Sight UK airs Monday – Thursday at 9pm on E4, and is also available on All 4.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io